Maxie Carpenter challenges nonprofits to self-navigate into March of 2020! Moving fast, isn’t it? The pace of time and change isn’t abating and the challenges facing Nonprofits are accelerating accordingly. It feels like you’re being fed like a hummingbird with a fire hose, does it not?
I’ve been writing for a significant portion of 2018 and 2019 about the trends that were going to manifest themselves in 2020 with significant impact. Truth be told, those trends began taking shape about 5-6 years ago, but it’s difficult to get that message across even today when 20% of Nonprofits have no Mission Statement, 50% have no Vision Statement, 70% have no Strategic or Adaptive Plan, and 98% have no Fund Development plan.
I could reiterate all those trends in this post, but I’d rather focus on how Nonprofits should be transitioning from dependent to self-navigating organizations. So, what do I mean by Self-Navigating?
The act of self-navigation is a critical capability. It requires staying engaged and focused on the goal or objective, while steering through the continuous tsunami of demands and expectations of all stakeholders of the organization, both internal and external. This can’t be accomplished while on autopilot. The organizational GPS only works if the destination is carefully chosen and locked into the road map (Strategic or Adaptive Plan). Hands-on navigation, with an eye on the compass during change and ambiguity, has become essential for success. Every decision about major issues – inputs, outputs, activities, data metrics, target client, donors, partnerships, programs, etc. – is an act of navigation that will influence the course of the life cycle of the organization.
The key is learning how to set and follow a course that will take you as far as you want in a direction that you’re capable of going (capacity and resources anyone?). Another key is understanding and working with deep values and authentic motivations that drive the organization while recognizing and overcoming the internal and external obstacles along the way.
It can be overwhelming to look at the challenges Nonprofits have to navigate on a continuing basis: political uncertainty, federal, state and local budget cuts, mergers, partnerships and joint ventures, digital disruption, cybersecurity concerns, stakeholder engagement, changes in the charitable giving paradigm, employee engagement, influencing Board Members to become Advocacy Developers, and sustainability vs. starvation; just to name a few!
The culture of Nonprofits has had a high RC Factor (Resistance to Change) for far too long. Changes and trends both in terms of leadership and operations will not wait for those unwilling to evolve. Donors, Grantees, Foundations, Companies, ect., will not just give money anymore out of societal obligation. They won’t give to under-performing organizations, but they will invest with organizations that can communicate a return on their investment (ROI) in terms of a well-articulated mission, vision and impact that truly makes a difference.
Nonprofits that cannot transition from a state of dependency in every respect (leadership, operations, planning, fund development, donor relationships, etc.) to a state of Self-Navigation as described herein, will cease to be eventually.
Truth be told, it’s just a matter of time.
Maxie Carpenter Challenges Nonprofits to Self-Navigate was first posted at InsideCharity.org
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